Students Staff
University of Essex

June 10, 2014

Similarity checking integration underway

Filed under: System Development,System Update,Technical — Alex ONeill @ 11:45 am

The ability to automatically send documents for similarity checking is currently in development!

We are working on an integration with Ephorus, a popular similarity checking software which has a large user base in Europe and is gaining many users in the UK. This integration will mean you can create assignments in FASer that will automatically check the similarity of all or a portion of submissions after the deadline. It checks against millions of web pages and online journals, as well as comparing documents with previously submitted items. Academics and administrators will be able to see at a glance what percentage of a document has been matched against something else and see a report detailing what bits are similar to another document and the source of the match.

Development is fully underway with a plan to release the functionality at the beginning of July.

May 23, 2014

Online annotation now available

Filed under: Milestone Reached,System Development,System Update,Testing — Alex ONeill @ 10:03 am

There is now the option to annotate student submissions online using FASer. If you don’t want to bother with downloading and uploading files to the FASer system, you can now login and annotate documents directly in your web browser! All you need is to be signed up to the Feedback Assistant and named as a lecturer or second marker on an assignment (your department administrator should be able to do this if you aren’t already). To get to the online annotation section:

  1. Login to FASer (
  2. Click on Feedback Assistant in the left hand navigation.
  3. Search for your module.
  4. Either click on the assignment name to see a list of all students or the student icon  to start marking students one by one.


  5. Click on the pen icon  next to a document to annotate it. It may take a little while to load and process the document.


  6. Start annotating using the Comment button.

    Comment button

  7. The Comment bar gives you lots of options such as adding comments using points, areas or highlighting, drawing freehand and typing text directly onto the paper.

    comment bar

  8. You can also see a list of and jump quickly to any annotation using the Comments menu (click on the arrows in the top right corner).

    crocodoc arrows

  9. Once you’re done, click on the Marking Complete button and your annotated file will show in the list of feedbacks.
  10. Annotations save as you go along so if you get distracted, close the window or want to come back later you can click on the pen icon again to carry on annotating.

This is still in testing phase at the moment so feel free to contact LTT ( if you have any comments or questions (and don’t forget to “Tell us what you think”!)

tell us what you think

Look for the “Tell us what you think” button in the top right of any screen in FASer

Good luck! P.S. Isn’t Crocodoc just the best name for a marking system?!

May 12, 2014

Student feedback email alerts are coming!

Filed under: System Development,System Update,Technical — Alex ONeill @ 1:06 pm

As of next Monday, 19th May, students will be sent email alerts when they receive feedback through the FASer system.

Email alert

In response to requests from students, the FASer system will now send out an email to students whenever they receive a piece of feedback from their department. The email will be sent to their University email address and will contain a link in the body so they can click through directly to their feedback as soon as they have received it. Students will no longer have to check the system to find out whether anything has been uploaded.

For staff, they will be warned when they are publishing an assignment or making feedback visible so they know emails are going to be sent out. There is a half hour delay on the email being sent so that feedback can be hidden or deleted if released accidentally.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below or email

May 7, 2014

Test the new in-FASer document annotation system

Filed under: System Development,System Update,Testing — Alex ONeill @ 8:45 am

Want to be a beta tester?

We have now started beta testing on the Feedback Assistant with real users and are hoping to get more using the system over the next few weeks.

The Feedback Assistant gives academics the chance to change the way they approach feedback with their students. It allows them to:

  • access submissions one student at a time
  • give text feedback
  • give audio feedback within the browser
  • drag and drop feedback files to upload them
  • give feedback to groups of students or the whole cohort

We will also very shortly be releasing the ability to annotate submissions directly within the web browser – no need to download or upload files at all! We are using a nifty little system called Crocodoc to help us with this – apart from the fact it has a great name, it makes opening of Word, PDF and Powerpoint files really easy and you can type comments, add drawings, highlight text and more without ever leaving FASer.

If you want to try out the new system, we can come to your office to talk through how you mark and what might work best for you and show you the basics of using the system. Either sign yourself up to the system here or email Alex O’Neill on

April 29, 2014

Alternatives to TurnItIn

Filed under: System Development,System Update,Technical — Alex ONeill @ 9:37 am

When we first started the MEFE project, our plan was to integrate FASer with the TurnItIn plagiarism checking and online marking service. Many of you currently use TurnItIn for checking plagiarism and it seemed it would save lots of time for lots of people, plus give academics a great and easy-to-use feedback facility.

However, there have been a number of issues with the TurnItIn service over the last 18 months which means this has not been possible. We actually started looking at the integration with TurnItIn a number of years ago and have since been waiting for them to release a “new way” of integrating, only to find when it was released that it didn’t do what we needed it to do. On top of that, TurnItIn have suffered with some issues with stability of their system in the last few years which many institutions have found incredibly disruptive to their coursework submission process.

Due to these issues, and the knowledge that both online marking and integrated plagiarism detection are very important to our users, we have decided to persue a different route for our integrations.

We are shortly going to be releasing the ability to annotate documents online in FASer. This will be seamless for users, but is actually using a system called Crocodoc behind the scenes (what a great name!). It looks good and works smoothly and with a bit of luck will make annotating documents really easy! It even has some features that TurnItIn can’t provide yet. Here’s a sneak preview:

online annotation

In addition to this, we’re going to be running a trial with an alternative plagiarism detection service called Ephorus. They are very popular in Europe at the moment but haven’t had much exposure over here in the UK yet. However, they have made the integration process sound very easy and we have had regular conversations with their team so we are going to be working on that shortly.

We will be keeping an eye on TurnItIn and seeing how things progress, but in the meantime I hope in the next few months we can get a system to you that will really make a difference!

February 13, 2014

Upgrade successful!

Filed under: System Development,System Update — Alex ONeill @ 9:44 am

The upgrade we made to the system this morning was successful, although if you notice any oddities do let us know using the Contact Us link.

You may also notice that there is a new “Tell us what you think” link on all pages – we would love to hear what you think of FASer in general, all comments and suggestions will be considered! Although nothing rude please 😉

If you are an academic and are interested in being a beta tester for the new Feedback Assistant, please enrol on the MEFE project Moodle page!

February 10, 2014

FASer upgrade, Thursday 13th Feb, 8-9am

Filed under: System Development,System Update,Uncategorized — Alex ONeill @ 11:03 am

We are doing an upgrade to the FASer system on Thursday morning, 13th February, between 8am and 9am.

Mostly, you won’t notice much difference to begin with – we are releasing the new Feedback Assistant which is only open to a handful of beta testers at the moment. However there are some changes to the way the system is working behind the scenes. We will have everything sorted by 9am on Thursday, but you may notice a few issues if you’re uploading before that so bear with us. Ideally, it would be best to avoid any work or uploading on the system between 8am and 9am.

If you have any problems after we’ve done the upgrade, just click on the Contact Us button on the left hand side to let us know and we will help you out.

Thanks for your patience!

If you are an academic and are interested in being a beta tester for the ne Feedback Assistant, please enrol on the MEFE project Moodle page!

November 12, 2013

Watermarking Microsoft Office 2013 documents

Filed under: Bug fix,System Development,System Update,Technical — Richy @ 2:31 pm

We had noticed that failures were coming in regarding the watermarking of some documents, we identified that the 3rd party piece of software that is used behind the scenes for document checking (Aspose) was not functioning correctly with the new version of Microsoft Office 2013 documents.

The development team have since introduced a fix which should resolve any issues dealing with the version incompatibility however errors now give us a reduced level of informaiton as to where there may be a problem.

Since releasing this fix we haven’t seen any submission failures regarding this specific issue at all, however if you are using Office 2013 and you get a submission failure please use the in FASer contact us form or send LTT an email detailing as much as you can.


October 22, 2013

COR integration updates: displaying weights and ID’s

Filed under: Bug fix,System Development,System Update,Technical — Richy @ 11:37 am

Further to the remedial and improvement works that have been rolled out over the past three weeks to improve integration between COR and FASer, the following features have been released and are available for your use:

Some of the more visible updates include:

  • Weight of assignments displayed in the overview page


By displaying the weight in the overview page, we aim to reduce your workflow, as this will mean you can change weights in COR and view these changes on one page rather than having to go into each assignments’ page individually.

  • Matching COR entry now displayed in the assignment summary page


Some DA’s were concerned about not knowing if an assignment had a corresponding entry in COR. Having a matching COR entry displayed in the assignment summery page will address this.

As well as the changes mentioned above, there are additional changes that may not be so apparent, these include:

  • Submission date is cleared automatically if assignment is marked as “No online submission required”
  • Student page displays “No current assignments” rather than “No online assignments” when there are no assignments

October 14, 2013

Validation updates to the assignment creation/ edit page

Filed under: Bug fix,System Development,System Update,Technical — Richy @ 1:55 pm

A new update has been released in order to ease the creation process of new assignments, these new features include:

  • Submission deadline default time
    • By default, submission deadline is now 12 noon; which means you will no longer receive the “LTT out of office hours” message.
    • The system should no longer send emails out notifying of “past deadline” when creating assignments with no submission deadlines.
  • Save notifications
    • A more visible notification should now be displayed when saving to indicate if any errors were found with your input.
    • The save button is now disabled while the saving process is occurring, we found that some assignments were being duplicated as users were clicking save multiple times whilst the save process was occurring.
  • Search on input fields
    Some browsers were performing a search when hitting enter on an input box, this should now be resolved; however the best way of moving into the next input field when viewing a website is by pressing tab.
  • Lecturer Input
    A  message is now displayed to indicate the maximum of 1 lecturer per assignment has been reached, this was the previous limit in OCS and has been replicated in FASer. If an assignment requires more than 1 lecturer, these should be added as secondary markers/ notification emails.

If you have experienced any issues or bugs please email the Learning Technology Team at with full details of the issue.


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